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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: House, Senate Republicans compete for cash | Former Playboy model free to speak about Trump | Trump allies reportedly worry Cohen will flip | Why Kim Jong Un's plane could be an obstacle to Trump summit | Where Trump, Kim could meet | Babies now allowed on Senate floor | What it was like on Southwest Flight 1380 | Cotton candy burritos


NEW HEADACHES FOR President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE

The Playboy problem -- former model is free to speak: 

A settlement was reached allows former Playboy model Karen McDougal to discuss her alleged affair with President TrumpDetails of the settlement: It "ends a lawsuit brought by the model, Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign." Yeah, but: Trump still faces a legal battle with ex-porn star Stormy Daniels. Daniels is fighting to get out a legal agreement with Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen to stay quiet.

The Cohen problem -- Loyalty, shmoyalty:

Via Politico's Darren Samuelsohn and Andrew Restuccia, "Two sources close to the president said people in Trump's inner circle have in recent days been actively discussing the possibility that Michael Cohen -- long seen as one of Trump's most loyal personal allies -- might flip if he faces serious charges as a result of his work on behalf of Trump." Keep in mind about Cohen: He's involved with the Russia investigation, but is also involved in a separate investigation over his business dealings.

NEW TIDBIT: Michael Cohen just dropped his libel lawsuits against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed.


The Haley problem — It's the Trump administration. The TRUMP administration.:

Via The Hill's Jordan FabianNikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleySunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Trump previews UN message: Body 'has not lived up to' its potential Trump Jr. to Dem Senator: 'You admitted to hitting your wife so hard it gave her a black eye!' MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had a public argument with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow over proposed Russia sanctions. But the spat underscored Trump world's obsession with top aide's political ambitions. Why this is big: "It is virtually unheard of for administration officials to openly discuss their political futures, and Haley, who is widely seen as a present and future GOP star, has not said anything significant about running for a higher political office. Nonetheless, the comments had Trump allies saying that Haley is thinking too much of her own political brand."


It's Thursday. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to and on Facebook.



A Delta flight returns after small engine fire:

Via Sky News, a Delta flight returned to Atlanta 30 minutes into its trip to London after a small fire was seen in the engine. "Firefighters at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the city, doused the plane's engine, and the airport confirmed there were no injuries." Watch:



'Whenever, wherever, we're meant to [meet] together':


Via The New York Times's Ali Watkins, "Of all the obstacles to the potential summit meeting between President Trump and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, just getting there could prove the most turbulent." Why: "It is unclear whether Mr. Kim's fleet of Soviet-era planes can fly him more than a few thousand miles from North Korea." That sounds terrifyingKeep in mind: Kim hasn't flown outside of North Korea since he took office. He could borrow a plane, "but not without a significant dent to his well-established hubris."

TOP LOCATION OPTIONS: Sweden, Switzerland, China, Mongolia and the demilitarized zone are a few options. Pros and cons of each:



Senate Republicans: 'Where is the love?':

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton, the Republican National Committee's (RNC) midterm plan has sparked grumbles in the Senate over whether it puts too much of an emphasis on saving the House majority. What sparked this aggravation: An Associated Press story highlighting the party's plan to raise and spend $250 million on a GOP midterm protection plan, and quoting RNC Political Director Juston Johnson as saying, "Our No. 1 priority is keeping the House. We have to win the House."

IN THE SPEAKER RACE: Via The Hill's Scott Wong, "Here's a twist: Some congressional Republicans say it's possible neither Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (R-Calif.) nor Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' MORE (R-La.) will be serving in House leadership after the November midterm elections." Why: A group of roughly 30 conservatives want a fresh leadership team. Keep in mind: That group could prevent McCarthy or Scalise from reaching the 218 necessary votes.

KEEP IN MIND: The Hill's Morning Report on the harrowing election data for Republicans: "More than three-dozen GOP lawmakers have opted to retire, rather than seek re-election. Democrats only need to flip 23 seats to take back the House."



Newspaper layoffs:

Via The Tampa Bay Business Journal, the Tampa Bay Times is laying off around 50 people after the new tariffs President Trump imposed. Why: The tariffs increased the cost of newsprint. The newspaper's CEO said the tariffs could cost an additional $3 million. The layoffs: A spokeswoman "declined to specify how many of those layoffs would affect the newsroom, saying only that the 'cuts are taking place throughout the organization.' "



C-SPAN just gained a new star:

The Senate passed a resolution allowing Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems should run as economic progressives, says ex-Obama strategist Democrats must reconcile party factions to raise blue wave odds Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (D-Ill.) -- the first senator to give birth while in office -- to bring her baby onto the floor. Details: It allows Duckworth, or any other senator, to bring a child younger than one year of age onto the floor during votes. The chamber cleared the resolution by unanimous consent.

BEST REACTION -- Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' MORE STEALING THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH!: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) commented on the resolution. "Why would I object to it? We have plenty of babies on the floor."


Welcome to America!!!!:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joked that he had two (!) lunches with President Trump yesterday, including a cheeseburger on the president's golf course.


What it was like to be on Southwest Flight 1380 -- yikes:

Via The New York Times's Jack Healy and Christine Hauser, here's what it was like to be on the Southwest flight with an engine that exploded. "With no apparent warning, the plane's left engine exploded after one of its fan blades broke off. A gust of shrapnel blew out a window, partly sucking one passenger in Row 14 headfirst into the sky. Oxygen masks dropped down and the plane plunged thousands of feet in a minute." Passengers describe those minutes:


Another member of Congress on the personal toll of the opioids crisis:


Via The Hill's Rachael Roubein, Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) opened up about her brother's struggle with opioids. "You deal with trust issues in the family. We didn't know whether to trust him. I can remember so many phone calls just wanting to believe what he was saying, and then the evidence [of opioid misuse] would prove otherwise."



This is too real:


23 years ago today:


Oh wow:



The Senate is in. The House is out. 

Tidbit: Via The Washington Examiner's David M. Drucker, "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDoug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week GOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal MORE, R-Ky., could seek to hold the Senate in session longer each week to keep vulnerable incumbent Democrats off the campaign trail."

Noon: President Trump arrives in Key West, Fla., from his Mar-a-Lago resort.

12:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump has a briefing with Joint Interagency Task Force-South, Northcom and Southcom. He then heads back to his Mar-a-Lago resort.

1:45 p.m. EDT: The Senate has a confirmation vote on James Bridenstine as NASA administrator. The Senate's full schedule today:

2 p.m. EDT: The Brookings Institution is hosting an event on education in Africa. Details:

2:15 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence meets with German Vice Chancellor and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz in the White House.

Friday: Former first lady Barbara Bush lies in repose at St. Martin's Church in Houston. Details:

Saturday: A private funeral for former first lady Barbara Bush in Houston. Details:

Monday: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Pompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Positive Moon-Kim summit creates a diplomatic opening in North Korea MORE's nomination to lead the State Department. Details: 

Op-ed from a former State Department adviser on Pompeo's trip to North Korea and what it means for his confirmation.


May 9: Small Business Administration administrator Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Small business chief touts early impact of tax cuts as other firms looks for benefits MORE and Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment More Dems come out in public opposition to Kavanaugh MORE (D-Md.) speak at an event hosted by The Hill on small businesses. Details and full list of speakers:



4 p.m. EDT: CNN's Jake Tapper interviews former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe New York Times defends bombshell Rosenstein report Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma MORE

10 a.m. EDT Friday: Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson speaks at an American Enterprise Institute event. Livestream:



Today is National Rice Ball Day.


When you've hit 'cotton candy burrito,' you've gone too far:

Cotton candy burritos are now a thing. Video -- even I wouldn't eat this:


Slowly starts humming, 'I'm proud to be an American...':

Via The New York Post, "The average American utters their first curse word of the day at 10:54 am, according to new data."


And because you read this far, here's a cat that hates its birthday: